Ode to the Life Savers

“How are you?”

It’s the familiar rhetorical question we ask friends and family. We’re asking the question to be polite. It’s not that we don’t truly care how the other person is, but it’s just the way we greet each other.

More than likely the response is quite simple:

“I’m fine, how about you?”

And, once again a simple response is reciprocated:

“Fine, thanks for asking.”

Sometimes that becomes the end of the conversation and we move on to the next task on our list or the next piece of business in our busy, hurried lives.

There are, however, those times when you ask and you get an earful of drama that goes on and on and you wonder why you even asked. Was that really the response you were seeking? You’re thinking…geez, sorry I asked. Or, you find yourself at the heart of helping, showing compassion because yep, their life really does suck right now. The tears flow and you’re in the midst of a mini-therapy session.

Then there are those times when I’m asked that rhetorical question. I look up, smile politely, and share that all is well. Inevitablity followed up with that little voice in my head that says,

“You liar, life isn’t fine right now! You know you’re dealing with x, y, and z and you’re sick and tired of this and that. You’re stressed to the max, you couldn’t sleep last night, and you didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning.”

The string of negative thoughts that I wanted to go away have just resurfaced! We’ve all been there at one time or another. But my question to you is what if we stop! We stop asking people, “How are you today?” But rather we ask them,

“What brings you happiness today?

Or, better yet, let’s make it an “open-ended question”,

“Tell me what brings you happiness today!”

Now I have to admit that this sounds a bit awkward. I’m sure it would catch people off guard, but it would channel the response to the power of positivity. I mean how wonderful would it be to allow others to focus on the insignificant or significant aspects of their life that brings them happiness? Truth be told, we more often than not rehash the not-so-positive aspects of our day.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we really take the time, the time to think, the time to look, we will find that happiness is all around us, even if it is something that we may deem insignificant.

So, without further ado, here is a mini list of what is bringing me happiness…what is saving my life right now.

  • My One Little Word (OLW) for 2018 —> simplicity. Since 2014, I’ve had a OLW to guide me through the year. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, but yet also have felt like I’ve accomplished very little. For 2018, I’ve streamlined several aspects of my life and have been reminding myself to keep. things. simple! So far simplicity has served me well for the month of January. It has bought me a focus and sense serenity, both of which in turn make me happy.
  • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking: Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is a book about the secrets to Danish living. I stumbled upon the book way back in September and wanted to embrace the hygge lifestyle right away. I bought a copy of the book for my daughter and my husband read it too. Some of the aspects of a hygge lifestyle are good food, candles, fireplaces, and cozy blankets. The food aspect…well, we’ve got that covered, but if you happen to stop by my home you’ll notice candles, dim lights, and the best hygge blanket ever that just happens to be hand knit for me by my daughter, Maddie. Hygge makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy!
  • The wallpaper on my iPhone. This past summer we took a family vacation to Europe. We captured tons (1,000+) of photos! Some of the best ones my husband took in the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet and calm. One of my favorites is of the Eiffel Tower. It’s now on my iPhone and it is a silent reminder of the vacation we were so blessed to be able to enjoy together.
  • My gratitude journal. I know I’ve mentioned my journals before, but I have really taken to my gratitude journal. It has honestly refocused and channeled my daily thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a new format, because I’m focusing on simplicity, that allows for a focus in the AM and a reflection in the PM. I don’t write in it everyday, but I do write in it most days. I often catch myself rereading my entries and this too brings me moments of happiness.

Ode to the life savers! Regardless of how insignificant, these are just some of the things in my life right now that I can count on day in and day out to bring me happiness.

And while we might find it odd to greet people by asking them what is bringing them happiness or what is saving their life, I ask that you at least start with yourself.

Ask yourself what brings you happiness at the beginning of the day, throughout the day, or at the end of the day. Before you know it, your happiness list will get longer and longer! As you become more comfortable with the saying, perhaps you’ll find the courage to ask others, spread the power of positivity, and embrace the gratitude.

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Believe it or not, the midpoint of the winter season is Friday, February 2nd! On this day blogger Anne Bogel encourages her readers to share what is saving their life right now. You can read about what is saving her life here and here.

Also, every week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation for readers and writers to get together and just find something to celebrate! You can visit her blog here.

Thank you Anne & Ruth

for this opportunity

to celebrate

the little things

and big things

that make a big difference!

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#MustReadin2017 {Update 4.6.17}

The books just kept piling up. The stack grew higher and higher. New releases, older releases, books for my students to enjoy, and a sprinkling of some adult titles for me.

Sixteen books in all!

“You need to stop,” I told myself. “You’ll never have time to read all of these books.”

I needed, I craved a focus.

A plan, or perhaps a challenge! No, not another challenge!

In January of 2017 I joined fellow readers and created a #MustReadin2017 book list. You can read the initial post here.

Initially, I was a bit hesitant to participate, but today I am certainly glad that I am here, participating. I’m accomplishing much more than I thought I would, even though my reading took a back seat to my daily writing during the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March. In case you missed it, here is my #MustReadin2017 list:

 

There are sixteen books on my list and here is what I have read so far:

  1. small great things by Jodi Picoult
  2. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Llody
  3. How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
  4. The Playbook: 52 Lessons to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
  5. Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh
  6. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  7. Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

They were all EXCELLENT! (Yes, I am shouting.) You must read them now, share them now! It’s also time to throw some confetti and do a happy dance! I’ve read seven out of the sixteen books on my list!  🙂

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

  • One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Oh no! Books, books, books! I’ve added more to my #MustReadin2017 list:

  • Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Written In the Stars by Aisha Saeed
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

Well, it’s about time I wrap up this post so I can get back to my reading. I’d like to send a special thank you and hats off to Carrie at There’s a Book for That for uniting us. And of course, I’m wondering what you have recently read or what you plan to read soon.

Please share!

I (heart) comments!

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Take-away Tuesday

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These two little books by Austin Kleon are a quick read that I enjoyed reading during the Slice of Life Story Challenge. In both books, the writing style is structured and informative while the artwork is fun and whimsical. Kleon is also the author of Newspaper Blackout where I got the inspiration for my post from Sunday.

In Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, all I could think about was the connection to what we teachers and writers use, mentor texts. Basically, Kleon advocates that you get your inspiration and creativity from those around you, but then make it your own.

Here are some of my take-aways from Steal Like an ArtistShow Your Work:

  • Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.
  • An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artist collect selectively.
  • Carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go. Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations. Copy your favorite passages out of books. Record over heard conversations. Doodle when you’re on the phone.
  • Keep a swipe file. It’s just what it sounds like-a file to keep track of the stuff you’ve swiped from others. See something worth stealing? Put it in the swipe file. Need a little inspiration? Open up the swipe file.
  • Keep two desks. One is an “analog” desk and one is a “digital” desk. The analog desk contains markers, pens, pens, paper, etc. The digital desk houses the computer and other devices.
  • Surround your self with books and objects you love. Tape things to the wall and create your own world.
  • Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another place among people that think differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brain works harder.
  • “The trick is not caring what everybody thinks of you and just caring about what the right people think of you.” ~Brian Michael Bendis
  • You can’t count on success; you can only leave open the possibility for it, and be ready to jump on and take the ride when it comes for you.

So there you go! If you need to add another book to your never ending stack of books to read, you should definitely grab both of these.

Happy Reading!

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Readfessions of a Reading Specialist

 

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Nothing But the Truth!

Welcome to Readfessions of a Reading Specialist.

Just some quick & clean happenings from my reading world.

Readfession #1: My readers love their reading journals!

This year I decided that I would utilize reading journals (again). I’ve used them in the past, but about two years ago our school started providing an iPad for each learner so reading journals have been on the back burner. I was excited to introduce them  and it’s funny how pumped my students get when I tell them that we are writing in their journals!

My readers decorated the front cover and then together we added some standard pages and some anchor charts. Throughout the year the journals will be used for responses from explicit instruction and for responses to independent reading. The reading journals serve as a great tool for formative assessment and a way to track progress.

Readfession #2:   I love Scholastic’s new resource, Storyworks Jr. 

This summer I attended the Scholastic Reading Summit. It was a great one day conference that was jam-packed with exciting books, awesome keynote speakers, and fabulous sessions. Oh, and need I mention, I had some great colleagues attend the conference too! (You can read about it here!)

Anyway, the point is that during the conference Scholastic was promoting its brand new multi-genre resource, STORYWORKS Jr. Since I love STORYWORKS, I knew STORYWORKS Jr. would be perfect for the group of readers I instruct. I purchased a subscription and I couldn’t be any happier. The online resources includes lesson plans, videos, audio recordings, and multi-level versions of the story. I love the reading selections and so do my students. It’s a reading win-win for me. It’s a reading win-win for my readers!

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Readfession #3: Independent reading is a huge success!

You know what Dr. Seuss says:

The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!

Well, my readers are going places! Independent reading has gone to a whole new level this year. I’ve always made it a priority, but again after attending the Scholastic Reading Summit, I just knew I had to push more this year. And pushing I am! I cannot emphasize enough the power of the book talk. If I read the book, they want to read it. If I talk about the book, they want to read. I am truly amazed how simple yet powerful book talking is. My worry, I can’t read the books fast enough and I’m afraid I’m going to run out of books!  I’m stocking my room with books that I purchase, books from the school library, books from the public library, and most recently, e-books for my Kindles.

We’ve also been utilizing “book bins” this year and they too are quite powerful. It’s not enough for me to ask, “What are you reading now?” I also am asking, “What are you reading next?” or “What book(s) are in your book bin?” Visit Franki Sibberson’s blog to read more about book bins.

Book bins=powerful reading!

Readfession #4: I am busy reading too!

Here’s what’s on my short stack:

  • Finished: Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • Reading Now: Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz
  • Up Next: Wish by Barbara O’Connor
  • In the Bin: Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen
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my short stack

Well, that’s a wrap of readfessions for this reading specialist!

Until next time,

~Amy

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SOL

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